A perfect Saturday afternoon for football greeted me as I walked up to Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons were in town sporting a 4-0 record in the ACC home opener for the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Low humidity and 80 degrees set the stage, for a vibrant tailgating scene. After spending a couple hours tailgating, I walked into a stadium that was nearly filled to capacity. Fans were eagerly awaiting the matchups with Wake Forest and Notre Dame in back to back weeks. The recent demand for tickets has prompted an expansion of seating in the corners of the end zone.
In 1892, North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts played Raleigh Male Academy. They defeated the Academy 12-6 in front of an estimated crowd of 200. The Following year the school played it’s first intercollegiate game, defeating Tennessee College 12-6. Originally the school wore blue and pink colors. In 1895, third year head coach Bart Gatling introduced the red and white uniforms. That color scheme is still used today. In 1907 Head coach Mickey Whitehurst guided the team, then known as the Farmers to their first ever undefeated season at 6-0-1.
In 1921 the team joined the Southern Conference. That same season, a disgruntled alum, wrote in the school newspaper that the team played like a “Unruly pack of Wolves”. Within weeks everyone referred to the team as “The Wolfpack”. Only the football team were known as the “Wolfpack”, until 1947, when all sports adopted the name. The Wolfpack joined the ACC in 1953. Since joining the ACC, the Wolfpack have won 7 Conference titles, the last coming in 1979.
FUN FACTS ABOUT WOLFPACK FOOTBALL
- In 1906, the Farmers attempted their first ever forward pass!
- Earle Edwards leads all coaches in victories with a record of 77-88-8, he also has the most losses.
- In 1918 the season was cut short, due to the entrance to World War 1 and a severe outbreak of the flu on campus. Practice and games were canceled for five weeks. Upon resumption the Farmers were defeated 128-0 by Georgia Tech!
- Lou Holtz was hired in 1972 and he led the Wolfpack to their highest poll rankings, finishing 11th in 1974. Holtz had a combined 33-12-3 record in four seasons.
- Five players are in the College Football Hall of Fame. They include Roman Gabriel, Jim Ritcher, Dennis Byrd, Ted Brown, and Jack McDowall.
- Retired Jerseys include the following, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Mario Williams and Bill Yoest.
- The mascot is actually not a wolf, but a Tamaskan dog. The dog resembles a wolf.
The Wolfpack have a bitter rivalry with the North Carolina Tar Heels. These two schools are only 25 miles apart! The Tar Heels currently lead the rivalry 66-33-6.
East Carolina and N.C. State have become heated rivals in recent years. The schools began to play each other in 1970 and play for what is known as the “Victory Barrel.” The two teams took a hiatus, after then Athletics Director Jim Valvano put an end to the series in 1987, after repeated pillaging by Pirate fans. In 1997 the North Carolina legislature proposed a bill demanding that these two schools must play on an annual basis, officially reviving the rivalry. The schools have met 29 times. The Wolfpack lead the series 16-13, but lost this year in week two, 33-30.
Ryan Finley and Matt Dayes, powered the Wolfpack past Wake Forest 33-16. Finley threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, while Dayes rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. The Wolfpack started fast as Finley hit Jaylen Samuels with a 13 yard scoring strike, giving the Wolfpack a 17-0 lead after one quarter. Mike Weaver kicked three second quarter field goals to give the Deacons a prayer, but they trailed 23-9 at the half. Finley put the game away with a fourth quarter TD pass to Kelvin Harmon. The 33-16 win ended a four-game winning streak to start the season for Wake Forest. The Wolfpack moved to 3-1, with a huge matchup with Notre Dame coming Saturday.